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Australian internet Guzzling data downloads explosion

Australian internet users are downloading like crazy. Photo: Jim Rice

Australians’ hunger for data continues to grow, with the volume of total downloads in the final quarter of 2014 exceeding an exabyte – or 1 million terabytes – for the first time.

Data released on Tuesday from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show Australians downloaded 1.15EB of data in the three months to December 2014, an increase of 33 per cent on the same period in 2013.

Australian internet users are downloading like crazy.

Australians are also connecting faster, with the number of internet subscribers with connections at advertised speeds of 25 megabits per second (Mbps) or higher – faster than the maximum speeds available on ADSL2+ – rising 11 per cent to 2.34 million.

With the rollout of the National Broadband Network (NBN) continuing throughout the year, super-fast fibre was the fastest growing type of internet connection, soaring 94 per cent in the year to 324,000 connections.

However, plenty of internet users found their connections were anything but speedy this week after last week’s arrival of US based streaming service Netflix in Australia led to a spike in download traffic and appeared to clog networks.

Recent data from Canadian internet hardware and software company Sandvine showed Netflix accounted for a whopping 35 per cent of all data downloads in North America at peak times.

The data showed approximately 2.5 per cent of Australian internet subscribers were already accessing the US version of Netflix with a virtual private network (VPN) – which moves a user’s IP address offshore – before the arrival of Netflix Australia. Australian viewers using the US Netflix service accounted for 4 per cent of total download traffic as at November 2014, the Sandvine data showed.

Perth-based ISP iiNet said on Monday, less than a week after the Netflix Australia launch, that Netflix alone was now accounting for 15 per cent of its consumer traffic.

Rival video streaming service Stan, joint-owned by Channel Nine and Fairfax Media, publisher of this article, was also launched this year, and is set to contribute further to 2015’s growing download tally.

NBN Co, the company which oversees the rollout of the NBN, said it had seen growth in heavy internet usage among customers connected to the NBN, with users downloading 67 GB of data per month on average.

That was higher than the national average at 58 GB per month, NBN Co said.

Tony Cross, NBN Co’s principal technology officer, said the ABS data showed Australians’ appetite for smart devices and online content continued to grow at an “exponential rate”.

The ABS data showed fixed-line broadband accounted for 97 per cent of all data downloaded, a slight increase on the 96 per cent of data downloaded via fixed-line broadband in 2013.

Downloads via mobile phones increased to 4.6 per cent of total downloads – equivalent to 0.8 gigabytes of data per subscriber each month – compared to 3.2 per cent at the end of 2013.

The percentage of dial-up connections fell 22 per cent in the year to 159,000.

Telco retailers continued to improve their data offerings this week in a bid to entice customers onto their mobile networks, with some giving away free subscriptions to music and video streaming services, and allowing customers unmetered access to the services so they won’t exceed their data caps while bingeing on Game of Thrones or Orange is the New Black.

There were 12.7 million internet subscribers in Australia at the end of last year, a 2 per cent increase on 2013.

The number of household subscribers rose 4.22 per cent in 2014 to 10 million, while the number of business subscribers fell 3.9 per cent to 2.6 million.

The ABS Internet Activity survey reflects data from 71 Australian internet service providers with at least 1000 subscribers.

An internet subscription may represent more than one user, as it applies to a household or business, not to an individual.

Additionally, individual internet users may subscribe to more than one mobile handset service.

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Henry Sapiecha

April 2nd, 2015
Topic: COMMUNICATIONS, COMPUTERS IT Tags: None

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